The old adage that always holds true – “children are the future”. The children of today are tomorrow’s leaders, workforce AND athletes. This being said, whether your child is an endeavouring athlete, or just wanting to minimise injury throughout life, it is vitally important that we future-proof the younger generations and ensure their bright future is realised.
It has been shown that children experience a greater incidence of overuse injuries – due mainly to the fact they are generally more habitually active in everyday life and because of physical and/or physiological immaturity. It is estimated that up to 50% of injury in children is largely preventable (Sports Medicine Australia).
The good news: with several tips outlined in this article, we can minimise the risk of these injuries occurring and thus ensure your child has the potential for high performance and quality movement well into their future.
Tip #1 – Ensure high quality equipment (including footwear)
High quality equipment associated with any form of physical activity is essential to reducing the risk of injury in both the long and short term. This extends anywhere from everyday footwear that offers good arch and ankle support, all the way to protective equipment such as headgear and mouth-guards, when playing contact sport.
Spending those few extra dollars to ensure shoes provide the support required, or getting orthotics (if appropriate) to maximise foot and ankle mechanics, goes a long way to reducing the chance of short-term injuries such as ankle sprains. Additionally, improved foot and ankle mechanics will significantly reduce the risk of overuse or long-term injury occurring.
Providing high quality equipment is a great way of investing in your child’s future in sport and safe participation in physical activity.
Tip #2 – Screen for movement deficiencies early
The way we move can potentially contribute to the development of injuries in all people. Poor movement patterns or a lack of structure in activity can potentially lead to the development of injury, especially overuse injury. With children experiencing higher levels of overuse injuries, this is particularly important.
Exercise Physiologists and Physiotherapists are training in assessing quality of movement and providing remedies for deficiencies if they are present. Getting assessed early, before issues arise and implementing corrective strategies is a great way to reduce the risk of an injury occurring in the first place.
If your child is serious about pursuing sporting endeavors and moving well, screening with an Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist is an excellent way of future-proofing your child.
Tip #3 – Ensure proper structure of sessions
This tip is especially important for children’s sport and organised forms of physical activity. To ensure best performance and readiness for activity, all sessions should include:
- Adequate Warm Up – including dynamic stretching and light movement
- Skill Practice – ensuring correct performance of key movements or skills associated with the activity
- Gameplay/Activity – applying the movement performed in skill practice
- Cool Down – gradually returning the body to pre-activity conditions
Following this structure in all sessions allows safe participation in activity and develops good exercise habits which can be applied all throughout life.
For a comprehensive insight into this concept, see Sport Medicine Australia’s guidelines for participation
“Would you rather wait until something occurs before acting, or would you prefer to get in early and reduce the risk of injuries occurring in the first place?”
If you answered the latter, consider implementing these 3 strategies now to future-proof your child and ensure their potential is realised.
Book an appointment
If you would like to bring your child in for an assessment, or find out more, you can contact us on 02 8607 4000 or request a call by completing this form.
This blog was written by Alex Magnussen – Exercise Physiologist at Precision Physio St Marys If you would like more information, or to work specifically with Alex, you can contact him through the Precision Physio St Marys clinic: 02 9623 2220 or book in online.
ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription 5th Edition
Sport Medicine Australia’s guidelines for participation https://sma.org.au/sma-site-content/uploads/2017/08/childrensafetyguidelines-fulldoc.pdf
Australian Government Department of Health: https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/F01F92328EDADA5BCA257BF0001E720D/$File/brochure-24hr-guidelines-5-17yrs.pdf